The sixth annual Sea Festival, a bastion of the Cambodian sports calendar, will take place in Kep province this weekend, with organisers expecting a healthy turnout despite the cold snap hitting the kingdom.
The event, which will be officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday, welcomes local and international tourists and athletes to the scenic province of Kep as a celebration of Cambodia’s unique coastline.
The 2016 event, which was held in Sihanoukville, welcomed more than 500,000 with the festival attracting many of the kingdom’s finest sportsmen and women.
Sports competitions during the three-day festivities included running events of five and 10 kilometres, cycling 10 and 40 kilometres, beach volleyball, beach football, paramotor, jet ski races, sailing and Kun Khmer.
This year, Mixed Martial Arts will enter the fray.
Vath Chamroeun, the secretary-general at the National Olympic Committee, said the upcoming event would be of great benefit to the kingdom’s sporting fraternity.
Speaking at last year’s closing ceremony, Thong Khon, the Minister of Tourism and president of the NOCC, said safeguarding the country’s coastal environment remained a priority of the current government and the SEA Festival was integral to that aim.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia intends to protect the coastal environment through proven techniques. We will draft laws and regulations designed specifically to protect the coast, as well as raising awareness of the people regarding environmental protection,” he said.
Mr Khon said that becoming a member of the most beautiful beaches in the world had been a boon to the country’s tourism sector, helping to enhance the prestige of Cambodia on the international stage.
Organised as a celebration of Cambodia’s entry into the World’s Most Beautiful Beach Club in July 2011, the festival has steadily grown to become one of the premier year-end fixtures since its inaugural Sihanoukville event.
Each of the Kingdom’s four coastal provinces – Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot and Kep – rotate hosting duties.
According to the provincial governor, Kep province received a total of little more than one million tourists in 2016.